The amendment draft of the Representation of the People Order (RPO) is in its final stage and is likely to be tabled in the Election Commission’s February 4 meeting for approval.
EC’s committee has recommended 34 amendments but they did not include one on bringing the army under the definition of law enforcement agencies. This means like the existing law, the amended RPO will have no option to deploy the army as members of law enforcement in the polls.
Sources say the RPO amendment draft was almost finalized at the Sunday meeting of the committee led by Election Commissioner Kabita Khanam. The proposed draft has provisions for signing in specific form regarding the presence of polling agents, time of entering and exiting the election centres.
These measures have been proposed to rein in the tendency to raise allegations after getting out of the polling stations.
A decision has been taken in principle to include advance voting of the polling officials and members of the law enforcement agencies.
Apart from them, provisions for the use of electronic voting machine or digital voting machine, the power to transfer election officials within 24 hours, making independent candidacy easier, increasing punishment for the polling officials, quickly resolving election-related allegations and informing the complainant, raising the amount of deposit to Tk50,000 from Tk20,000, and appointing third eyes to enquire about election irregularities and violation of electoral code of conduct have also been kept in the draft.
Election Commissioner Kabita said: “We have almost finalized the RPO amendment draft and plan to table it at the February 4 meeting for approval. If that is not possible, then we will table it at the next meeting. After that, we will take necessary steps to get it passed.”
Asked if the armed forces have been included in the definition of the law enforcement agencies, she said: “No proposal has been made to change the definition. So, the situation will remain unchanged.”
The EC has announced the roadmap ahead of the next national election with seven work plans. The first of them is the review of the legal structure and overhauling it.
The Kabita Khanam-led committee was tasked with preparing the relevant amendment draft in December and take steps to implement it within February. But the committee lags behind the roadmap. However, the committee still thinks there is enough time to finish the task.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com